February is awash in red hearts, and not just for Valentine’s Day. For the 51st year in a row, this February is National Heart Health month.
This is a great opportunity to remember that heart disease is the #1 killer in America. Even if you are lucky enough not to be directly impacted by heart disease, surely you know someone who is. I’ve written about my own experience overcoming heart disease in earlier blog posts.
Here are some chilling statistics on heart disease:
- Heart disease (including heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases) is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
- Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
- About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year– that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
- Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
- Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
- 1 in 31 women in America dies from breast cancer. 1 in 3 dies from heart disease.
- Only 1 in 5 women in America believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
You read those correctly. Only 1 out of 10 women reading this do NOT have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease. And a woman’s chances of dying from heart disease are ten times greater than dying from cancer. Yet, heart disease is a forgotten killer in America.
What can you do to reverse the trend? Take care of yourself and your loved ones! What on earth does that mean? Lots of things… but here is my big one: reduce sodium intake. If everyone in America reduced their sodium intake to 1,200 mg per day, up to 99,000 heart attacks and 66,000 strokes could be prevented each year. I’ve written in greater detail about my low-sodium diet for heart health here.
Ninety percent of Americans consume more than the recommended amount of sodium. But most disturbingly, 8 out of 10 kids aged 1-3 years old do so, and 9 out of 10 kids over the age of 4 years old are consuming too much salt. How can they possibly lead a heart healthy life if that is what they are doing from birth?
The answer lies in avoiding processed foods. They are the sodium culprit in America, which means the way to cure the epidemic is to eat more made from scratch foods. I realize that is easier said than done, and to be addressed by another blog another day, but nevertheless it is the solution.
How can you personally start making your heart more healthy today?
- Go here for recipes (HHS.gov, powered by EatingWell).
- Go here for a meal plan (HHS.gov).
- And, go here and here for advice (HHS.gov and CDC.gov).
To steal a phrase, just do it. Healthy food tastes better and will allow you to enjoy the company of your loved ones for a longer period of time.
Read more on avoiding processed and high-sodium foods here:
- How to Eat Healthy on the Road: Simple, Whole Foods
- Getting Real About Real Food With a Low Sodium Diet
And read more about improving heart health with whole grains here: